Richard Herring - Happy Now?
Northampton Royal & Derngate, March 2016
Richard Herring continues to forge a reputation for being one of the hardest-working stand-ups around. Alongside selling actual tickets for actual gigs so he can earn a living, he is all-over social media, he writes, performs and gives away for free a lot of material as well as gently, humorously and quite reasonably pedaling stuff from his extensive and impressive archive of work. The trouble is the majority of people won't realise this, so unless you are “part of' his audience” who knows him, then you are simply part of his audience who paid their ticket-price and turned up to be entertained, and you will have no context for this extremely had-working comedian who has been on the fringes of our mainstream for decades, and I wonder if you would therefore judge him a little harshly. He does come across as slightly bitter about his own sustained lack of wide commercial recognition.
That said, whatever your judgement you will certainly have been entertained, so arguably from everyone's perspective – job done. Here is a man who knows precisely what he is doing, so precisely in fact, his entire act does belie an appearance of a rehearsed monologue rather than a craftily-riffed to-ing and fro-ing with the crowd, but those of us who are in “his audience” know what to expect so within the confines of his tried and trusted style he certainly delivers. If you are looking for audience banter, he is certainly not your man, although I have no doubt he could carry this off superbly if he chose to go there.
He has chosen to base this show loosely on events in his life following the recent birth of his first child – familiar, relateable territory for most people, and he treads the perfect line between his trademark childishness and the much deeper, and sometimes highly personal, thought-provoking structured social comment. His routine does sometimes veer away slightly from recognisable comedy and into the realms of heartfelt, personal disclosure, but in an air-brushed TV age of bland wishy-washy observations this interjection of honesty and humanity is a refreshing addition, and makes us appreciate him as a caring father and the kind of guy who is almost certainly a really nice bloke... And he does all this with effortless comic timing and the masterful delivery of the hugely experienced professional he is.